Observing city surveillance – How much do we really know?

Group 15: Andrew Blazevic, Emily McMahon, Grace Hoult and Laura Stratford

Introduction:

A significant amount of collaboration was required in order to produce a well-executed piece of work. To create this video, our group cooperated on a variety of crucial areas including; brainstorming different options and directions for the video, creating a thorough plan for the story’s layout, establishing appropriate interview questions, filming the required material and then editing that footage. Our group also established a clear message about surveillance that would be presented throughout the video. All of these elements were put together in order to create a strong story on surveillance.

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Surveillance camera on a corner of a building by Hustvedt (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The different options considered for the video:

When brainstorming and deciding on a topic for this surveillance story our group considered a range of different options and the ways that each could be portrayed, before eventually narrowing the options down to two different topics, which were webcams or street/urban surveillance. From these two options the next step taken was the brainstorming of both ideas and concepts that could be included; these points ranged from positives and negatives to possible questions, scholarly resources, as well as how the overall layout and format would look and work together in collaboration with the chosen themes.

After having considered and recorded all of this information into a Google Doc we decided by a majority vote on which one we thought would produce the most interesting story and best quality overall in terms with filming. The winner of this vote was street/urban surveillance, as this idea suited filming in the city, which was a fairly equal amount of travel for all group members. Having implemented a mind map along with various points for discussion, our topic began to have a solid foundation that we would be able to build further upon. Eventually settling on a news report format we found that there was one section requiring a lot of consideration; the use of consent forms. By choosing the news report format and including interviews, we would require consent if we were to film anyone. The forms would provide proof that we actually obtained written permission to film the interviewees.

We also considered adding comedy/satire elements, where we would pretend to be random city goers that had extreme opinions to express in the interviews. In the end we decided against this, as we thought a genuine observation of people’s beliefs and ideas would be sufficiently interesting on its own.

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Street Corner Surveillance Camera, 7th Street, SE & Pennsylvania Avenue, SE (Washington, DC) by Takomabibelot (CC BY 2.0)

The processes undertaken to prepare for and make the video:

In preparation for the video, we brainstormed a list of interview questions and picked the ones we thought would elicit the most interesting and varied responses. On the day of filming we decided to rearrange the order of the questions after a test video with one participant, as they built upon each other better this way and had less chance of overlap in terms of responses. We also scripted the introduction and conclusion sections to contextualise the interviews and give the video an overall news report theme. We had to decide upon locations, so we researched places that were well rated by photographers and cinematographers in Melbourne. Doing this allowed us to construct a clearly identifiable backdrop for our video with iconic locations such as Flinders Street station and the State Library. Some of the spots where we filmed were decided on during the actual day of filming however, as the weather made uncovered areas more difficult to film in at times.

Regarding the equipment used, we first discussed what options we had available and in the end we brought along Laura’s Nikon D90 and Andrew’s Panasonic to compare the quality. The Nikon was the final choice on the day and was placed on a tripod for all of the interview sections. The actual filming process required us to set up the frame for each shot, ask passers-by if they would like to participate, direct them as to where they should stand and then interview them. We also made sure each participant signed the previously mentioned consent forms after their interview. Emily filmed her introductory and concluding section separately using her iPhone. After the videos were filmed, the files were then shared via a Dropbox account we created. Editing was done using Adobe After Effects and Windows Movie Maker, to create the animation, add music and compile all of the video parts together into one.

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Surveillance by Jonathon McIntosh (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The intended meaning(s) or message(s) conveyed in the video:

The format of the video we have created is a news broadcast that involved the subjective responses from willing participants in Melbourne’s Central Business District. The questions asked were broad to invite a wide range of interpretation and discussion from the participants regarding their personal thoughts about surveillance. The messages we aimed to convey were that surveillance is all around us, and that people acknowledge that it is there and are thinking about it, although often on a subconscious level. Interviewing a wide range of people has provided us with a strong insight that every individual interprets what the word “surveillance” means and how it affects them differently.

Creating a news based broadcast that shows these varied responses encourages the viewer to think of surveillance critically and develop their own opinion on the issue. We didn’t want to make a video structured in a way that would tell viewers how they should think and feel about surveillance. Instead, our video shows arguments both for and against surveillance in order to generate thought and discussion.

It was evident in the interviews that people have been thinking about surveillance, how it is a significant part of our lives, and how we come in contact with it every day – sometimes without realising it. The goal of the video was to get more people consciously thinking about surveillance in a city environment, rather than offering a strong opinion for or against it.

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A ‘nest’ of surveillance cameras by Pawel Zdziarski (CC BY 2.5)

Conclusion:

Overall the planning and execution involved in creating and publishing the final product was achieved through large amounts of online collaboration on various platforms, where all members were heavily involved in the creative process. Our group made sure that a thorough amount of planning went into this to ensure that we could create the best video possible.

 

Video link:Click here

Creative commons media used:

Image: Map of the world by Mediengestalter (CC0 Public Domain)

Music: News Intro Sound by Maximilien (CC by 3.0 AU)

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